it’s been a while since i’ve been directly questioned about my english-speaking abilities.
i’m used to being greeted with “how are you?”, or “good morning”, or “what can i do for you?”, or just plain “hello” as a customer. so, i was kind of taken aback when i was hit with a “do you speak english?”, which were the first words out of the pastry shopkeeper’s mouth. it didn’t strike me as strange at the moment, so i gregariously replied (in the most sophisticated pronunciation i could squeeze into one syllable) “yeah”. i threw in a bit of an australian accent for good measure afterwards. later, however, i realized that this was the first had been directly questioned about my english skills in long time. previously, attempts were made to put me in ESL when i entered elementary and middle schools, but i always slipped out of that, and some college applications required that i take the TOEFL, but i avoided that too. granted, this incident took place in a the pastry shop in enumclaw, where, well, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that places east of the cascades are whitewashed. anyways, it also struck me that “do you speak english” was a dumb question, since 1) if i didn’t speak english, i wouldn’t be able to answer her question, and 2) i don’t think an asian could get this far into central washington without being able to speak english. i have to give her credit — it was better that she checked with me directly instead of assuming that i couldn’t speak english, or asking my white companion if i spoke english. it just bothered me that i was taken at face value due to my race, like i was a book being judged by its cover.
it’s clear that minorities inspire doubt, alientating them from their fellow white citizens, and thus constitute an alien nation.